World Economy

Former Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein: Trump's tariffs aren't a bad idea

Key Points
  • “Tariffs might be an effective negotiating tool,” former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein says in a tweet Tuesday evening New York time.
  • “China relies more on trade and loses more,” he adds.
  • Tariffs may cause U.S. buyers to switch their purchases to local or non-Chinese companies, causing Chinese companies to lose revenues, Blankfein says in a separate tweet.
Containers are stacked on a vessel at the Port of Long Beach in Long Beach, California on July 6, 2018, including some from China Shipping, a conglomerate under the direct administration of China's State Council.
Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images

The United States may be feeling the pain of tariffs now, but they will hurt China in the longer term, said former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

"Tariffs might be an effective negotiating tool," Blankfein said in a tweet Tuesday evening New York time. "Saying it hurts us misses the point. China relies more on trade and loses more."

Trade tensions between the world's two largest economies escalated in the last week. U.S. President Donald Trump's administration raised tariffs on $200 billion worth of imported goods from China to 25% from 10%. In response, Beijing retaliated with duties of up to 25% on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods that are set to take effect on June 1.

How do tariffs work?

In a separate tweet Tuesday, Blankfein said tariffs may cause U.S. buyers to switch their purchases to local or non-Chinese companies. Although that will cause the American side to pay slightly more than they do now, he pointed out that as a result, Chinese companies will lose revenues.

"Not great but part of the process to assert pressure to level the playing field," he said.

Responding to Blankfein's tweet, Eric Robertsen, head of global macro strategy and FX research at Standard Chartered said: "I do think there's an oversimplification there."

"Certainly in the short term, if tariffs are increased across the board, the idea that there are winners and losers in this trade war, I think is actually missing the point: Everybody loses. That's the key factor from a growth point of view," he told CNBC Wednesday.

Robertsen also said that U.S. companies importing from China have contracts in place which might be difficult to change overnight.

Other analysts have noted anecdotally that some non-Chinese companies have already been moving their manufacturing out of the country to Southeast Asia due to rising labor costs.

While the U.S. has a host of demands for China around creating a fairer business environment — including the protection of intellectual property and technology transfer — Trump has focused on reducing the U.S. trade deficit with China. The U.S. is the Asian giant's largest trade partner.

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